The New CPA: Changemaking Passionate Accountant

Author: Rebecca Crump
Posted: February 23, 2018

The decision to get my MBA was (what I thought would be) a natural progression from accounting to finance. I chose The Portland MBA program for two reasons: 1) its connection to the city I loved; and 2) its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. I figured I’d “pivot” to finance and work for a sustainability-focused company. Well, one finance class and at least five personality assessments later, I realized this was the wrong choice for me. I’m driven by my values and need to pursue a career in line with those values — not just work for a company with a CSR department.

That’s where Net Impact came in.

Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. The Portland State School of Business chapter consists of inspiring change agents who want to use their business degree to make a positive impact in the world — my kind of people! I was initially attracted to the club because of B Impact, a student-led program that pairs student volunteers with companies looking to become B Corps — a certification for companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. I was able to help a local startup gain B Corp certification, while gaining consulting skills and learning all about this new way of doing business.

Honing my design thinking process at a workshop in Colombia.

Fast forward a year-and-a-half; I am now the development chair for Portland State’s Net Impact chapter. I’ve also decided to pursue a certificate in Social Innovation, and was able to travel to Colombia over the summer for the Social Innovation field study. This past fall, I was part of the winning team at the Elevating Impact Kickstarter Weekend. Who knew an accountant like me could fall in love with the design-thinking process?

My fellow travelers and I on our Social Innovation field study in Colombia.

Attending the Elevating Impact Summit two weeks ago was an opportunity to reflect on how far I’ve come. I remember volunteering at the event last year and being equal parts inspired and blown away by some of the speakers and their messages. This year’s event was no different. We heard from the hilarious Corey Pressman, the genius John Warner, and the inspiring Ridhi D’Cruz, among many other impressive changemakers. I highly recommend this annual event to, well, everyone!

The Summit made me ponder (check out The Alchemy of Wasted Time for more on that) about this career change of mine. I was initially terrified I would have to make a jump from the for-profit business world to the mission-minded nonprofit world. Now, I realize that doesn’t have to be the case. I see a shift happening where for-profits and nonprofits are moving toward each other. Companies are being forced to make sustainable and socially responsible choices, whether they want to or not. Nonprofits are thinking about more financially sustainable ways to operate that don’t rely on donors and grants. Similarly, I don’t need to pick one career path or the other — I can merge them by using my finance skills to make a positive social change in the world.

becky_crumpRebecca Crump is a second-year full-time MBA with a background as a CPA in corporate accounting and financial analysis. She plans to use her MBA and finance skills to use business as a force for positive social impact.